Major parking changes coming to streets around UW Tacoma campus starting next week

Changes to on-street parking around the University of Washington Tacoma campus mean drivers won’t be able to park for longer than three hours at a time.

Starting Sept. 16, an unpaid, three-hour parking zone will go into effect from Tacoma Avenue to Market Street from South 17th to South 21st streets.

That includes South Court D Street, Fawcett Avenue and Court East Street.

“The goal of these changes is to free up on-street spaces for short-term customers and visitors,” said city spokeswoman Stacy Ellifrit.

Currently, those streets are mostly unregulated when it comes to parking. The affected area translates to about 230 stalls.

A map by the city of Tacoma shows where a three-hour unpaid parking zone will be implemented near the University of Washington Tacoma campus starting Sept. 16, 2019. City of Tacoma

Also part of the changes: paid parking along Jefferson Street between 17th Street and 21st Street will extend from a 1-1/2 hours to two hours maximum.

The city’s Parking Technical Advisory Group, which is made up of community members, reviews parking occupancy data every two years. In the most recent review, the members noticed the streets west of the university were filling up fast.

“This area was becoming overparked by 9AM and was staying overparked throughout the day,” according to PTAG recommendation documents.

That means that at the busiest hours of the day, the available space is more than 85 percent occupied, said Joe Loran, co-chair of the city’s PTAG.

“When we see that then we know that we need to probably do something about it,” said Loran, a six-year PTAG member.

The PTAG’s goal is to manage on-street parking at 85 percent occupancy and 15 percent vacancy.

The PTAG worked on the changes for about a year and took feedback from UW’s transportation coordinators, said UW Tacoma’s communications director, John Burkhardt.

The university hopes the new regulations will accommodate the length of time for classes while also “encouraging turnover” to free up parking.

“The vast majority of our classes are under three hours in length, but the previous regulations (90-minute paid spots) saw many students having to leave during a class in order to ‘feed the meter,’” Burkhardt said in an email.

Eric Paulson, a Tacoma resident on the South End Neighborhood Council, worries that paid parking could follow in the new zone. Paulson parks in the affected zone to use the YMCA nearly every day, he said.

“I feel (the city is) slowly converting all of the free parking to paid parking,” he said.

Only the paid parking along Jefferson Street will be metered.

As of the end of July, the city’s on-street meter system generated $920,000 this year, which funnels back into parking services.